Who You Say You Are – Logos & Branding

I’m so glad my daughter is still a baby because there’s hope that things in this country will completely turn around before she enters her teenage years.

Maybe she’ll listen to her old man. When she tries to run out of the house in some crazy outfit, maybe she’ll defer to my more than a quarter century (!) of marketing, branding, and design experience. Maybe she’ll listen when I run a little focus group in the living room (including a test market of approximately two – me and her mother) and explain that what she looks like is saying something to the outside world.

I mean, I once sat down with a company who thought their fancy script logo was hitting their target market of 15-25 year olds when it really conjured images of lace doilies and grandmas. Truth be told, businesses aren’t always the best judge of how their image is being received.

I could talk about design elements and compositional structures; I could talk about colors and how these elements affect the overall brand. But the most important thing I can say is that a company’s identity is their face, the initial point of interaction for many consumers. As such, you want to make sure that your logo is effectively communicating your brand. You want to make sure that who your logo says you are and who you really are match up.

My wife says I’m a little crazy to be worried about this now. But last night, instead of some silly story about a talking animal, I let my daughter flip through an annual of award winning brand identities. I’m happy to report she was most drawn to the classics – clean, simple, decent.

There’s hope for us all.

Gary LoBue, Jr.
Art Director
The Russo Group

Some Thoughts about Agency

People are always asking me what I do. It’s a common ground type of question – we all do something. So what do you do?

I work at an advertising agency. I probably say those words, or some variation, four or five times a week. Occasionally, people will press further and want more details but usually that’s a satisfyingly glamorous answer and we move on to something else.

As with anything we say over and over again, the term “advertising agency” loses its meaning after a while. But I ran across a typo today that shook me into a little reverie on the subject of agency.

First of all, please realize I get a thrill out of finding typos and the rush is directly proportional to the number of people who might see the typo. It’s a complicated equation wherein a typo in an email isn’t worth much but a typo on a billboard situated on a busy highway sends me into a kind of happy euphoria or sheer panic in the fall-on-the-floor, curled-in-a-fetal-position variety – depending greatly on if I had anything to do with it.

And just for the record, this sort of thing has not happened. It’s the fear alone that keeps me on my toes.

Anyway, the typo I’m talking about was on a different scale entirely, something I call a “good typo” – those that inadvertently present a word or phrase or idea in a new light, leading to some kind of insight or – dare I say it? – revelation.

Here it is:

By controlling your agency and telling them what to do, agency may lose its passion.

Seeing the word “agency” in this context, without the expected and necessary article “the” (“the agency may lose its passion”) sent me searching to redefine this stale word.

The word agency has its roots in the Medieval Latin word “agere,” meaning to do, act or manage.

To do, act or manage. Rather than an easy noun phrase designation (as in my agency, or the agency), maybe we should all remember what the word agency really means.

When you act with agency, you’re doing something with dynamic force. You’re empowered and confident. You’re not merely punching a clock and sitting at a desk; you become the lone, decisive superhero in a world of sameness and ordinariness, the only one who can bring about real change.

So suit up. And remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

Dr. Nate Pritts – Copywriter
The Russo Group

Breaking The Routine

We all have routines, set patterns we sink into. Why? Because they’re comfortable and predictable and dependable – they’re like a commitment to the status quo. We can only deal with so many unknowns throughout the day!

I’ll admit to a few routines. Three times a week, I start the day at my gym, working on the same equipment in the same order with the same vain hope that I’ll lose a few pounds. Every week day, I stop off at the same coffee shop down the street from the office right around 9:30 and place the same order (it’s a tall cappuccino with a sprinkle of cinnamon in case you were wondering), probably in the same tone of voice. The barista confirms my routine by nodding and saying the same bright “Hi!” she said yesterday and will say tomorrow. I’ll stop here before I bore you too much.

And that’s my point, really. Routines are boring. They don’t challenge us in any way. Having a routine is just a way of walking around and telling everyone that you’re happy with the way things are.

But listen: can something routine ever really produce the results we desire?

The answer is no – not really. Not when it comes to advertising and marketing your brand. Those routines of mine? They’re meant to serve as a stable ground allowing me to reserve my most creative and innovative thinking for the day’s work. For every routine solution to your marketing challenges, there’s a revolutionary one as well.

Advertising agencies all talk about how dynamic and vibrant their creative implementations are, how forcefully the message is communicated. That’s all important, sure, but what about at the ground floor of your relationship with the agency – Account Service? Even here you want a representative who is vigorous and energetic in their thinking, a person who sees those predictable ways of moving your account forward and chooses instead to present new strategies and solutions to you. Maybe you’ll have an impulse to start consulting a bunch of charts with old, irrelevant data. But just remember, at an advertising agency, even your Account Service needs to be fully engaged in changing the conversation, breaking routines and delivering real results. So, take this opportunity to find the pirate buried deep inside you – break the mold, raise the sails, and head for un-chartered waters. You may be surprised at the results you’ll find.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. It’s 9:30 and I’m jonesing for some caffeine.

Elisabeth Arnold – Vice President, Account Services
The Russo Group